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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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  #1  
Old 12-11-2009, 08:56 AM
zachrichter zachrichter is offline
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Location: Fairfield, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 335XI/X3
2008 X3 Trailer Hitch Install

I recently bought a 2008 X3 with 8000 miles on it. Part of the deal is the lady I bought it form threw in a trailer hitch that she had not yet installed. I live in Germany and called the local dealer to see how much to install. Despite the instructions I have claiming it is a 1.5 hour suggested installation time, the dealer claimed it would take 6 hours and therefore it would be a 600 Euro ($900) job. This seems astronomical...

Anyway, I started doing some digging around and found the DIY install for a 2006 X3 trailer hitch. My question is, has anyone installed a hitch on a 2008? It appears on the 2008 model there is an area that is already outlined on the bumper which should be cutout for the install, instead of having to freehand and guess at how large the opening should be. Am I correct in this observation? Are there any other differences between the 2006 install that is posted in another forum and the 2008 install? Finally, is a DIY trailer hitch install something that will void the warranty? Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2009, 12:20 PM
vrooom3440 vrooom3440 is offline
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Location: Granite Bay, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 330i/X3/El Camino
There are multiple layers to this issue...

First there are differences in the Euro-spec and US-spec cars here. The towbar hardware is generally different and the electrical is TOTALLY different. So it would be good to provide info on exactly what you have. I believe the Euro hitches have a vertical receiver and may not require cutouts in the bumper? The US hitches have a horizontal receiver and will require cutouts.

A big part of the challenge here will be electrical. In the US we get pre-wiring for the hitch so we just plug in the controller module to a pre-existing wiring socket and plug the hitch wiring into another pre-existing socket on the back wall of the car. In the rest of the world there is no such pre-wiring so the retro-fit harness is much more extensive and involved to install. US cars require NO computer updates, Euro cars may need recoding due to the nature of the expansion socket they provide (I think it ties into light module data bus lines). Don't know much beyond that... check out the thread here on trailer brakes for some discussion though. Kenza and I hashed through some of this on his X3 in Chille.

On the time level, the mechanical stuff could be done in 1.5 hours if you know exactly what you are doing and work pretty fast. But generally I would consider 1.5 hours an optimistic estimate. The 6 hours is a first timer doing it at home figuring it out as they went. My impression is that officially US-spec is 1.5 hour and Euro-spec is 6 hour as well. Again matters what you have ;-)

I did my own on a US-spec 2007 and it went pretty much as the xoutpost outline. Of course I have the M-sport option so I *have* 2006 plastic on the rear too ;-) If you remove the diffuser piece you will find an outline on the bumper cover for the area to be removed. I used a hand coping saw to make the cutouts and it worked pretty well. I found using a flat screwdriver to gently pry the bumper cover tabs out enough to release the diffuser locking tabs worked pretty well. Just take them easy and one by one starting at one end.

Depending on options, the later cars have a removeable center section on the diffuser for the hitch install. Earlier and M-sport require either an alternative diffuser from BMW or cutting a hole. The BMW holes are centered and balanced, which means a lot of extra space on one side to match the other side with the wiring socket. Cutting your own hole allows you to follow the outline of the hitch closer and make the hole a lot smaller.

With respect to warranty I would expect it depends... the mechanical parts are unlikely to be used to weasel out of a warranty. The electrical bits though add a lot more weasel room exposure. YMMV.
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  #3  
Old 12-11-2009, 01:42 PM
zachrichter zachrichter is offline
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Location: Fairfield, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 335XI/X3
Yea, sorry about that, but it is a US Spec X3 and the hitch is also US spec. So it sounds like it should be a relatively quick install...maybe 3 hours? Also, if I understand you correctly, I should be able to just pop out the area from the bumper for the hitch to fit through? The X3 is not the M or the sports package. I figured it wouldn't affect the warranty as well. The hitch is a BMW product and came with self install instructions written in English. Nowhere does it say to take to an authorized BMW dealership.

Looking to do it this Sunday with help from two guys who have installed SUV hitches before. I'll post how it turns out!
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  #4  
Old 12-12-2009, 10:38 PM
vrooom3440 vrooom3440 is offline
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Location: Granite Bay, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 330i/X3/El Camino
Yeah should be a piece of cake then, just follow the printed directions you have and the xoutpost write up. I think you still have to cut the bumper cover which means taking the diffuser off. US-spec really simplifies things on the electrical side so yes indeed it should all just plug right in.
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  #5  
Old 12-14-2009, 05:29 AM
kenza kenza is offline
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Location: Santiago, Chile
 
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Mein Auto: 2007 X3 2.0d MT
The easiest way to check if your car is pre-wired is to see if you have a connector for the adapter module in your trunk. If you have it, you should be good to go. If not - you are in trouble (just like I was) and the best way is to buy an aftermarket electrical kit (For example Modulite from eTrailer.com).
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  #6  
Old 12-14-2009, 11:21 AM
zachrichter zachrichter is offline
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Location: Fairfield, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 335XI/X3
Nope, it was good to go. There were some small differences between the 2006 and the 2008 models, but I pretty much stuck to the script from article and it worked smoothly. Electrical was pre wired. Thanks for the help! I forgot my camera, so I didn't get a chance to take any pictures.
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  #7  
Old 12-15-2009, 07:57 AM
kenza kenza is offline
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Location: Santiago, Chile
 
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Mein Auto: 2007 X3 2.0d MT
Great news, good luck!
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